Michigan Association of School Administrators

Service | Leadership | Collaboration | Excellence

Member Blogs

Blog Authors

David Britton, Godfrey-Lee
Scot Graden, Saline
Tony Habra, Paw Paw
Michele Lemire, Escanaba
Vickie Markavitch, Oakland
Steve Matthews, Novi
Mike Paskewicz, Northview
Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift, Ann Arbor


MASA members: If you have a blog that you would like us to link please contact pmarrah@gomasa.org

It is not only Winter Sports Season, but also it is Robotics and Solo Ensemble Season!

Written by Michele Lemire on Feb 04, 2016
During the winter, basketballs can be heard bouncing, buzzers blasting, crowds cheering, gymnasts tumbling, hockey players slapping pucks...but at the same time...

...you might hear the soaring sounds of a violin, the hazy blue sound of a clarinet, and the chorus of voices lifted into 4 part harmony to prepare for solo ensemble and winter concerts.

...you might sense the excitement of our Robomos engineering their robot and strategizing how to win their competitions.

I am very pleased with the offerings we provide at the Escanaba Area Public Schools. Our students are so fortunate!

Let's take a cue from Professor Edwards and the Flint water crisis

Written by David Britton on Feb 03, 2016
The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Flint water crisis isn't the first man-made or natural disaster we've had to respond to but it is one of those unusual eye-opening events that elevates the underlying problem in plain view: we have a substantial problem in this country (in this world) adequately maintaining our natural resources and providing a healthy environment for everyone, regardless of levels of affluence.

As this interview with Professor Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech points out, we have a national problem with science in general. I'm simplifying what he actually talks about so I encourage you to read the entire article and then come back to hear what else I have to say.

Politics aside (because I think this country also lacks a strong, ethical political system focused on the public good), we have a big need to strengthen our science programs beginning in the K-12 system and before any lame-brain ed-reformist gets ideas, I'm not talking about making curriculum standards tougher and testing kids more. Our science education programs should be place-based learning experiences where kids are exposed to the current, real-world problems and asked to help solve them. Not more memorization of easily retrievable facts and figures (I avoided a science minor in college to go along with my math major because I hated memorizing the periodic table of elements in high school - HATED IT), but hands on work in the community to analyze problems, develop hypothesis, design experiments, collect and analyze samples, design blind tests, synthesize data, and develop possible solutions. At a minimum, this rigorous and relevant learning should begin at the 5th grade but should be on steroids by the time kids reach their high school years.

Other content areas should join in wherever it is obvious that science is not separate from language arts, math, civics, health and physical education. In fact, the best schools would make it difficult to determine where one ends and the other starts. You wouldn't be able to find the "English classroom" simply by walking the halls and seeing a sign. The core classes would blend into a rainbow of real life.

So if we want to help solve a growing litany of mostly man-made problems, and at the same time convert our factory-model schools into laboratories of relevant learning, let's take a cue from Professor Edwards and the Flint water crisis.

And let's stop talking about it and start now. In every school.

In Appreciation of the School Counselor

Written by Tony Habra on Feb 03, 2016

In Appreciation of the School Counselor

This is National School Counselor Appreciation week.  I used to hold that position at a high school here in Michigan and at a middle school in Arizona.  This puts me in a position to understand the challenges in a very personal way.

A school counselor’s job is never dull.  They share the joy of the student who has been accepted to the college of their choice and the pain of the student who failed to get the scholarship needed.  They deal with the frustration of the family that didn’t get the class schedule desired and the gratification of helping a student get the classes needed to graduate.  They wipe the tears of the student whose best friend suddenly hates him and can’t understand why and encourages the joy when the two of them are talking again.  They act as facilitator to all things emotional and resource to all things relational.  They are test coordinators, quasi-administrators, targets for the angry and foundation for the weary. They act as protector, advocate, and therapist for the students in their care and their heart breaks again and again while doing it.

The hardest day I ever experienced as a school counselor was September 11th, 2001.  The hardest month was the next 30 days.  I saw students, teachers, parents, bus drivers, custodians, administrators and all the while dealt with my own heartbreak and horror.  By mid-October, I was a wreck and as I sat waiting for my next appointment I was not sure I had the strength to go on.  A student had made an appointment and I was certain I had seen her before, but many people had scheduled multiple appointments so I prepared myself. Would she need a shoulder to cry on? A smile and a kind word to let her know it would be alright? A target for her anger at the unfairness of it all? I could not say, but I got ready.

She entered with a smile and said “Thank you Mr. Habra, you made a difference.” That was all it took. I still have the card she wrote when she graduated and when I am feeling blue I will pull it out and read it.  It’s a tremendously difficult job, and one brought home every night, but you are appreciated. 

Most importantly every school counselor needs to know that you make a difference. Thank you for all you do.


In Appreciation of the School Guidance Counselor

Written by Tony Habra on Feb 03, 2016

In Appreciation of the School Guidance Counselor

This is National School Guidance Counselor Appreciation week. I used to hold that position at a high school here in Michigan and at a middle school in Arizona. This puts me in a position to understand the challenges in a very personal way.

A school guidance counselor’s job is never dull. They share the joy of the student who has been accepted to the college of their choice and the pain of the student who failed to get the scholarship needed. They deal with the frustration of the family that didn’t get the class schedule desired and the gratification of helping a student get the classes needed to graduate. They wipe the tears of the student whose best friend suddenly hates him and can’t understand why and encourages the joy when the two of them are talking again. They act as facilitator to all things emotional and resource to all things relational. They are test coordinators, quasi-administrators, targets for the angry and foundation for the weary. They act as protector, advocate, and therapist for the students in their care and their heart breaks again and again while doing it.

The hardest day I ever experienced as a guidance counselor was September 11th, 2001. The hardest month was the next 30 days. I saw students, teachers, parents, bus drivers, custodians, administrators and all the while dealt with my own heartbreak and horror. By mid-October, I was a wreck and as I sat waiting for my next appointment I was not sure I had the strength to go on. A student had made an appointment and I was certain I had seen her before, but many people had scheduled multiple appointments so I prepared myself. Would she need a shoulder to cry on? A smile and a kind word to let her know it would be alright? A target for her anger at the unfairness of it all? I could not say, but I got ready.

She entered with a smile and said “Thank you Mr. Habra, you made a difference.” That was all it took. I still have the card she wrote when she graduated and when I am feeling blue I will pull it out and read it. It’s a tremendously difficult job, and one brought home every night, but you are appreciated.

Most importantly every guidance counselor needs to know that you make a difference. Thank you for all you do.

 


Organizing your research and interests

Written by David Britton on Jan 31, 2016
Important to our school district's two-year human-centered design project is the gathering of secondary resources to combine with interview data to identify and analyze patterns that will point our design thinking towards prototyping and other action. I've found that educators sometimes have very weak skills in finding, evaluating and storing this type of research because they've done so little of it since their undergrad days.

For me, the most effective Internet search tool for resources I'm interested in is through Twitter and relevant hashtags. Because I use Tweetdeck on my MacBook Air with multiple feed columns based on hashtags or lists for relevant topics, much of the research comes to me instead of wasting hours on Google or other similar search machines. When I quickly peruse the latest Tweets that come in, if I spot a link that interests me I can quickly scan it and decide if it's something I want to share or explore in more depth. I can then either bookmark the article/post or favorite it in my Tweetdeck feed for later.

One other organizing tool I use is called DEVONthink which allows me to quickly drag a link or article into an Inbox (the general inbox or a folder I've set up for a topic) for later. DEVONthink is a powerful research and writing tool because it has the capability of searching your resources based on tags or topics. I've only begun to better understand how to use this power.

Online sources that are particularly relevant to me I bookmark in my RSS reader and follow their posts more closely. I use Protopage as my reader because its so simple to add another source and organize them by my interests (i.e., News, Education, Detroit Red Wings, Running).

I know I'm preaching to the choir for most of you on Twitter who came to read this post, but there may be those in your schools or districts who could use a little help getting organized. I would also be interested in hearing what works for you.

Below are screenshots taken for each of the three tools I mentioned above as I was writing this Sunday morning post.